According to an extensive report by the Wall Street Journal, several companies are attempting to avoid advertising on controversial news stories by compiling ‘blacklists’ of flagged words. For example, Fidelity Investments compiled a ‘blacklist’ of 15 words that included words such as ‘gun’, ‘rape’, and, ‘Trump.’ According to the WSJ, if a story’s headline includes one of these words, “Fidelity won’t place an ad there.”
“Political stories are, regardless of party affiliation, not relevant to our brand,” said a Fidelity spokesman in a statement.
Several news groups say they are now suffering as a result of their advertisers’ choices and are hoping to bring new technology to the table in an effort to salvage the lost revenue. “Some companies are creating keyword blacklists so detailed as to almost make all political or hard-news stories off-limits for their ads,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Guardian’s Nick Hewat said the move “is going to force publishers to do lifestyle content and focus on that at the expense of investigative journalism or serious journalism.” Moreover, Hewat pointed to site advertisers who blacklisted stories using the word “Brexit.”
According to the WSJ, other companies blacklisting content include Subway, Carmax, McDonald’s, and Marriott.